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Vicki Hearn on the Nominet Trust 100

The Nominet Trust 100 celebrates the people and organisations who are using digital technology to change the world for the better. Nominet Trust Director, Vicki Hearn, shares her reflections on the NT100 in this Q&A:

1.In your own words, please give an overview of the NT100

For the past three years, the NT100 has highlighted the world’s most remarkable examples of social innovation, where the internet and digital technology have been used to tackle critical social challenges. These projects are revolutionising healthcare and emergency response, transforming education, protecting the environment, and empowering communities. Previous alumni range from Google’s Project Loon increasing online access in remote communities and ZSL’s conservation tech, Instant Detect, to projects like Andiamo – a family start-up using 3D scanning and printing to produce children’s orthotics in just 48 hours, as opposed to the standard 13 weeks!

Now in its fourth year, the UK’s largest tech-for-good campaign will focus on celebrating the organisations and people driving the use of digital technology to change the world for the better. Adopting a theme of ‘Everyday Tech Heroes’, the 2016 NT100 will profile inspiring people who have seen the effects of a problem in their communities and creatively deployed technology to tackle it. By shining a spotlight on these ordinary people doing extraordinary things, Nominet Trust hopes to inspire more individuals to use technology to make a positive difference in the world.

2.What is the main purpose of Nominet Trust?

Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading tech-for-good funder, providing grant funding and business support to organisations using digital technology to address significant social challenges. Through partnerships and campaigns such as the inspirational NT100, Nominet Trust mobilises new approaches that will influence and accelerate the use of tech for social good.

3.What inspired you or the founders to start Nominet Trust?

Nominet Trust was founded in 2008 by Nominet, the not-for-profit organisation responsible for the smooth and secure running of the UK internet infrastructure. Nominet is an international internet company delivering public benefit and believes the internet is a powerful force for social and economic good.

4.How has the NT100 helped your organisation progress?

The NT100 is an amazing showcase of digital social innovation from around the globe, shining a spotlight on innovations which may otherwise go unnoticed. It aims to:

Celebrate how much is being done by social innovators to tackle real social challenges, often under the radar.

Learn from what has driven these social tech entrepreneurs and provide insights into what makes it possible for a social tech venture to have an impact at scale.

Inspire others to follow in their steps, to raise the ambitions of social innovators using technology, and accelerate the use of digital technology as a tool for significant social change.

5.What is the added value of tech when addressing social challenges?

Tech has changed the way we shop, bank, communicate, even how we find a date. It has the ability to disrupt the way social challenges are addressed, offering social entrepreneurs the ability to innovate in different ways and extend their reach and impact, making change happen on a larger scale than ever before.

6.Who is your ‘Everyday Tech Hero’?

Nominet Trust has the pleasure of meeting amazing and inspirational Everyday Tech Heroes – every day! But one particularly impressive hero, ElsaMarie D’Silva, co-founder of SafeCity (featured in the 2015 NT100), is a shining example of an Everyday Tech Hero. Elsa, a native of New Delhi, was working with women’s issues and women’s safety in Delhi’s public spaces when Jyoti Singh was raped on a Delhi bus, and sadly subsequently died.

Elsa said, ‘I got deeply involved in the issue in the aftermath of the horrific gang rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi in December 2012. I decided to focus on making it easier for women and girls to report their experiences of sexual violence in public spaces, thus making the issue more visible and facilitating conversations around it.’

Elsa took action by reaching out to her community. SafeCity was born and began crowdsourcing stories of sexual violence and harassment. ‘Since we started in Dec 2012, we have been actively mapping in India, Kenya, Nepal and Cameroon. We have close to 10,000 reports, have done workshops for over 8,000 children and adults, worked on campaigns in over 10 neighbourhoods across Delhi and Mumbai improving the lives of at least 10,000 families. We advocate and engage online audiences through Facebook and Twitter and provide volunteering opportunities for several hundred people.’

You can read more about ‘Everyday Tech heroes’ in this short blog.